Rio de Janeiro
Rafa Costa e Silva
In a nutshell: Lasai, which means ‘tranquility’ in the Basque language, sees the world-class cooking of chef Rafael Costa e Silva paired with knowledgeable but intrinsically warm service, topped off by a stunning dining space in Rio’s Botafogo neighbourhood.
Farm to table: Many products come from Costa e Silva and his wife Malena’s own farms (the family has one in the city, one in the country) and each table has the central product of the day, such as corn, a cassava or blue carrots, displayed under a glass dome.
Typical dishes? Standouts include palm heart ceviche, and banana with bok choy, manioc and sour cream. Plus, the wine and cocktail lists are among the very best in Brazil.
Meet the chef: Costa e Silva, known as Rafa, trained at New York’s Culinary Institute of America. He spent many years in Europe, including working as the right hand of Andoni Luis Aduriz at Mugaritz in Spain. It was there he met his wife, Malena Cardiel, who now runs Lasai’s dining room.
Finding balance: During the pandemic, Costa e Silva seized the opportunity to revitalise Lasai’s concept. By reducing the number of seats from 40 to 10, which are now all at the chef’s counter, he can welcome his diners in person, focus on dishes’ details, and allow himself and his team a better work-life balance.
What’s the best seat? Take your place in the inviting dining room under a wooden-slatted ceiling as close as possible to the windows. Set in a historic house dating from 1902, the restaurant includes a terrace with a view of the most famous landmark in the city: Christ the Redeemer.